Re: TSD: Emotion vs. Intellect [was: wee-little question ...]

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Sat Apr 29 2000 - 19:18:33 MDT

> In a message dated 4/28/2000 5:24:30 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
> I discussed intelligence and emotion being in different realms.

On Sat, 29 Apr 2000 wrote:
> This is not true. If nothing else, "realms" implies that there are spaces, or
> rooms where we store thoughts and emotions. This is an illusion. Human
> cognition is a continuum constantly shifting from state to state.

I don't want to get into a discussion about what "cognition" is
(because I don't know). I will state that I can shift my attention
from an awareness of "feelings" (that I consider to be emotions) to
intellectual conclusions based on real experiences (that I consider
to be rational thoughts). As I am usually distinctly aware of the
reasoning process from which the "thoughts" are derived, and unaware
of the source of the emotions (other than attributing them to some
black box in my lizard brain), I consider them different "realms".

Your perception may vary (I suspect everyones' does).

It may have been a very poor choice of terms to equate "rational thoughts"
with "intelligence", but most of what I consider to be intelligence, I
can provide a rational explanation for the thought process being conducted
by the brain, while with emotions I am hard pressed to do that. The
best I can do is sometimes is point out a genetic agenda.

> Although it is true that one can, through intelligence, become more skilled
> at emotion, it is not because intelligence is separate from emotion or
> superincumbant. It is *possible* to subject and "master" your conflicting
> emotions by pretending they are not a part of your intellect, but it's an
> error of judgment.

I don't particularly consider intelligence or emotion to be superincumbant.
Nor do I consider it to be a good idea to attempt to "master" emotions,
rather than simply experience them. I do consider them separate because
with one I can follow the process and the other I cannot.

> Emotions are little understood and there for expression of emotions is
> frowned upon in our culture.

Thats the culture, I actually like almost all of my emotions for the
variety they bring to the table. I actually enjoy crying at movies.

> It is not OK to be conflicted, apparently. We are supposed to have
> "transgressed" beyond any conflicts. Hence the common "lizard brain"
> excuse for having modern feelings.

An enlightened person is happy to acknowledge both the paradoxes of
conflicting emotions and the confusion they sometimes bring.

> It is not a battle between two "realms" it is a natural, circuitous, shifting
> and weighing between two important parts of cognition that are both important
> to the minds healthy functioning.

No argument.

> Our so called lizard brain usually only kicks in when we are faced with a
> huge shock or fear reaction.

I would have to disagree. I would put "attraction", "love", "lust",
"awe", "sadness", "empathy" and a variety of other emotions as being
based in pre-rational brain development. Taking some pages from
Moravec's "book", higher animals have the ability to run simulations
in their minds to see if a hunting strategy, or other "behavior" is
likely to be successful. Before that simulation ability developed
one had to be driven by instincts. I consider all emotions as the
descendents of those instincts that were required for the survival
and propagation of the genes.

> Yet, it's become fashionable to *blame* our ancient mind on emotions
> that are tortuous, uncontrollable or otherwise unpleasant. We *thank*
> our intellect for emotions such as tranquility, satisfaction, contentment
> and joy. We try to not let emotion guide us, because we do not trust it's
> power over us.

About 7 years ago, I cared very deeply for a woman. That trust was
betrayed in a fairly heinous fashion. For several subsequent years
I considered women as a class as fundamentally untrustable and I have
probably not restored my once unboundless optimism in people even today.
If you carefully review my posts over the last year, you will see that
I place the "trustability" of humans as a fundamental problem that may
make them "undeserving" of salvation.

I was entirely intellectually aware of that process and knew what I was
feeling and why I was feeling it. Could that alter those feelings? No.
Rewiring the biochemistry and neural pathways of the brain is not something
that can be accomplished "by desire". In some individuals, approaches
such as therapy, drugs, etc. may allow a renormalization. For others, such
as myself, time may be the best medicine.

It has nothing to do with what is "fashionable" and has everything to
do with whether it is "real" and whether or not you are "happy",
"well-adjusted", and "functional" in society.

> They are not two unrelated functions. Your perception stream or "thought
> stream" is inevitably linked by emotion when you are in most normal states
> of thought. The fact that emotions produce very healthy and creative
> associations in both artists and scientists is well documented.
I have no doubt about this. I enjoy greatly the "elation" I get when
I get an particularly exciting insight or solve a difficult problem.
There have been times I've wandered from one end of my house to the
other muttering, "That is cool, that is so cool"... I am happy to
cherish those moments.

> When one is tuned finely to one's emotions, and perceives them as a natural,
> healthy motivator and helmsman, it shows maturity and wisdom. Wisdom is a
> part of intelligence.
Granted. However, one can be wise, or enlightened, and that can do
absolutely nothing for the dark clouds that emotions can bring to bear
on your psyche, unrequested and undesired by the occupant. Given, for
example, the dysfunctionality that depression creates in our society,
I believe you may want to grant that "emotions" are a very mixed bag.


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